Wildcat Canyon: Wildcat Creek-Mezue-San Pablo Ridge-Belgum Trail Hike

Thursday, June 9, 2016

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Wildcat Canyon Regional Park encompasses 2,427 acres along the Wildcat Creek watershed and the surrounding hills and ridges. The park extends from the Tilden Nature Area above the Berkeley hills in the south to historic Alvarado Park at the north end in Richmond. It includes a significant portion of the paved Nimitz Way extending from Inspiration point in Tilden Regional Park. Easy access from the busy cities of the East Bay makes Wildcat Canyon a popular place for hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians, and those simply looking for a quiet place to spend an afternoon. Wildcat Canyon has 25 miles of trails (mostly fire roads) and affords spectacular views from the crest of the East Bay Hills.*1

Begin this trail hike from the Alvarado Staging Area at Wildcat Canyon Regional Park on Park Ave in Richmond.

The gentle rolling terrain travels south along Wildcat Creek on a wide paved road for the first 1.2 miles.

Late wildflowers!

The trail continues on a broad fire road through the oak/bay woodlands to Mezue Trail.

At the trail junction; go left through the trail gate onto Mezue Trail, it climbs uphill through the open grassland with expansive views of the surrounding hills to the east and gorgeous bay views to the west.

Enjoy the magnificent panoramas!

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The trail continues NE as it climbs up towards San Pablo Ridge at 1000 feet.

At the San Pablo Ridge/Old Nimitz Hwy junction; turn right onto Old Nimitz, it runs southward along the ridgeline to the scenic bench overlook near the Old Nike Missile Radar Site.

Enjoy the views of San Pablo Reservoir and Sobrante Ridge!

Retrace your steps along Old Nimitz Hwy back to the San Pablo Ridge junction. San Pablo Ridge travels along the top of the ridge with gorgeous panoramic views!

Enjoy the spectacular SF/Bay views to the west!

Enjoy the northeast views around West Contra Costa!

San Pablo Ridge Trail continues along the expansive rolling ridge to Belgum Trail junction.

Panoramic views along the ridge!

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Go straight onto Belgum Trail, it winds down around the hill to Monte Cresta juntion.

Stay on Belgum Trail, it drops down towards the stands of eucalyptus, live oaks, bay laurels and grove of palm trees.

At the Belgum Grande Vista Sanitarium information display panel, turn left and follow the unsigned trail to view the ruins of the sanitarium.

In the hills above Richmond, hikers encounter a unnatural patch of vegetation. While oaks and other native trees dominate the landscape in the hills, here we find palm trees in a dense cluster. The living things are a clue to the history that’s buried at the site.

In the early 20th century, Dr. Hendrik Belgum established the Grande Vista Sanitarium to treat mental disorders. They landscaped the grounds in accordance with Belgum’s  treatment ideas. “To insure our guests an abundance of fresh, wholesome, nourishing food, so essential to the restoration of health,” a brochure read, “a select purebred dairy is maintained, also a poultry plan, an apiary, a fruit orchard, vegetable gardens, conservatories, private spring water system, etc.” *2

Grande Vista Sanitarium foundation and fruit orchards.

Make you way up the hill to the trail gate above Wildcat Creek.

Drop down onto Wildcat Creek Trail and turn right, retrace steps back to the staging area parking lot.

This is a fantastic local hike around Wildcat Canyon Regional Park. You’ll enjoy the phenomenal bay and valley panoramas along San Pablo Ridge and the beautiful expansive grasslands with stands of coast live oaks, eucalyptus, bay laurels and scatterings of chaparral-covered slopes!

*1 http://www.ebparks.org/parks/wildcat

*2 http://museumca.org/story/sanitarium-palm-grove

Stats:
7.42 Miles with 1409′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 1067′
Time: 3.5-4 hours with a couple of stops
Hike: Moderate
Parking: No fee at Wildcat Canyon Staging Area off Park Ave in Richmond. Pit toilets-Water Available at Alvarado Park.
Water fountain at Mezue Trail junction on Wildcat Creek Trail.
Bring plenty of water & food/snacks
Dog friendly

Weather: Low clouds, overcast, breezy and cool with some sun. Temps ranged from the low to high 60’s with brisk SW winds.

View the interactive RGPS route map & profile

Wildcat Cyn

Print Wildcat Canyon Trail Map

Wildcat Canyon

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